The crystal oscillator is everywhere. The need for precise frequency control sets the stage. Crystals ensure not only accurate timing for microprocessors and microcontrollers, but also in setting the frequencies of any radio or wireless device.
Sure, you can make an oscillator out of capacitors, inductors, and resistors but their limitations are severe. Things like time, temperature, and other physical conditions can wreak havoc on their accuracy, causing the output to drift off frequency. A crystal oscillator is much more stable. We’ll delve more into that soon.
Quartz is the material of choice for most crystals, however, cheaper (albeit less accurate) ceramic resonators can sometimes take the place of quartz in a crystal oscillator.
Crystal oscillators operate on the principle of something called the piezoelectric effect. Let’s go into a bit of detail about the piezoelectric effect.